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KNOXVILLE — The vampire and zombie trend have been all the rage in the movie industry lately and now UT School of Art Professor Norman Magden has turned it into award-winning art.

Norman Magden's CafeMagden’s film, “Café,” received first place in the experimental film category at the Los Angeles Movie Awards (LAMA) on June 7. The film also received several awards of excellence for best director, best cinematography, best production design and best costume design in the experimental film category.

In “Café,” Magden uses a theater troupe and a real dance club in Chicago to create his environment where the undead walk the streets. Dracula even makes an appearance when he puts on a floor show for spectators.

“‘Café’ is a mockumentary,” Madgen said. “It is a documentary of a theatrical event. It takes place on a real street in Chicago, but the characters are fictional.

“I’ve been entering festivals for a number of years,” Magden said. “This is the first year I’m showing ‘Café,’ and it’s gotten a lot of feedback.”

It’s also racking up the awards, having also received first place at the Los Angeles Reel Film Festival in January.

“Café,” which is part of a larger film Magden is working on that has to do with film realities, is about an infamous mythical figure who exploits his legend by performing an extraordinary show in the heart of a major city at an anonymous cafe for the undead. Through the film, Magden creates a visual journey instead of focusing on telling a story.

The film uses a special effect Magden calls “multi-image performance works.” These works involve dancers dressed in white wearing white masks. The dancers carry large screens projecting images that create a whimsical world of movement.

“In my multi-image performance works that incorporate film, I project images from the back of the room and the dancers reflect these images on their white costumes as they move,” Magden said. “I use images from the dance itself. It’s hard to see the difference between the live dancers and the projected images of the same dancers.”

Most images Magden selects depend on the theme of each performance. For instance, he did a piece based on Joan of Arc and had images of flames projected on one of the dancers to depict Joan burning at the stake.

Magden said his films are more pieces of art than stories.

“I mix live with fictional imagery,” he said. “I’m more of an artist than a theater person, so I’m more interested in art than traditional storytelling.”

A UT professor since 1993, Magden teaches and encourages his students to think outside of the proverbial artistic box.

“The mission of my courses is to show students how to create media as a fine art form,” Magden said. “This is an alternative way to think about reality in performance and time arts context.”

LAMA celebrates independent motion picture and literary arts by providing a platform for filmmakers and writers to have an opportunity to be awarded for their work. LAMA provides over 300 award opportunities between 11 categories.

C O N T A C T :

Kristi Hintz, UT media relations, (, 865-974-3993)